The upcoming Christmas holidays will be special for the people of Ukraine. For the first time – already official – the faithful of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine will celebrate it at the same time as the majority of Christians around the world. This is supposed to be another symbol of distancing ourselves from the Moscow patriarchate. It is headed by Kirill I – an ardent supporter of Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Among other things, Kiev issued an international arrest warrant for him for this attitude.
Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyaev, better known as Kirill I, is the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. A fanatical supporter of Putin and his war. He blesses Russian soldiers sent to the front. He proclaims that each of them, if he dies, will be cleansed from all sins. For Kirill, an independent Ukraine is the work of Satan.
– We believe that the devil’s temptation will subside and in some time we will remember with irony and laughter the pathetic attempts to ruin the Orthodox Church in Ukraine – he said in one of his speeches. Among other things, for spreading such opinions, the Security Service of Ukraine sent an arrest warrant for Kirill. He is accused of spreading Kremlin propaganda and violating the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine. He faces life imprisonment, but only on paper, because Kirill is in Russia and enjoys the privileges of a man of power. He is a multimillionaire and the owner of numerous properties, including a house in the Alps.
The wanted poster is a symbolic action intended to limit the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine. There are two Churches in Ukraine: one – related to Moscow, the other – independent from it. In October, the Ukrainian parliament preliminarily approved a law banning the activities of the former.
– When we have an institution controlled by Russia in Ukraine, it obviously causes problems. Not only for the people who go to church, but also for the state and national security. That is why Ukraine – not only Zelensky, but also his predecessor Poroshenko – wanted the Ukrainian Church to be independent, points out Oleksiy Sorokin, journalist of “The Kyiv Independent”.
The Orthodox Church of Ukraine became independent even before Putin’s attack. A full-scale invasion only deepened the separation from Moscow.
The Ukrainian parliament changed the date of Christmas
One of the manifestations of distancing ourselves from Russia was the decision of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which last year allowed its followers to celebrate Christmas – almost like all over the world – on December 25, and not on January 7, as in Russia. In July this year, this decision was legally sanctioned by the authorities in Kiev. Therefore, next week, Ukrainians will officially celebrate Christmas for the first time when Poles do.
– The discussion that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine should adopt the Gregorian calendar has been going on for years. The argument against was the fear that the Ukrainians themselves would not accept it. However, after the outbreak of the Great War, the desire to celebrate the holiday with Christians from the West prevailed – says Oleh Bilecki, a Ukrainian journalist.
Changing the date of Christmas is part of the broad policy of derussification and de-Sovietization of Ukraine – the names of streets, squares and metro stations are changed. Not only Lenin but also Pushkin fell out of favor. Father Frost is problematic, as Santa Claus tries to displace him. – We have to move away from the Soviet remnants and move with the times – says one of the residents of Kharkov.
In Kharkov, the Christmas tree was placed in the subway instead of in the main square. For safety.
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Main photo source: Reuters